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Gynecologic Cancers Significantly Underfunded Compared With Other Cancers

March 29, 2018

In comparison to the funding and survival rate of many other cancer types, funding for ovarian, cervical, and uterine cancer does not align with their survival rates.

This finding was presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s (SGO) 2018 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer (March 24-27; New Orleans, LA).

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health ad well as the University of Michigan Health Systems conducted a study to analyze funding distributions from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to gynecologic cancers compared with other cancer types from 2007 through 2014. Researchers calculated a score for the funding received per years of life lost from 100 incident cases of uterine, ovarian, and cervix cancer standardized for mortality and incidence by utilizing the NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Cancer Trends Progress Report and Funding Statistics.

Funding-to-lethality scores were analyzed and compared with 10 different cancer types that were of similar incidence and were most prevalent among men. Scores were calculated for each year of the 8-year period to compare trends over time.

Results of the analysis showed that uterine cancer ranked among the lowest cancer types in annual NCI funding. The most recent year in the study (2014) saw decreases in funding from peak levels of 18.5% for ovarian cancer and 18.8% for uterine cancer compared with only 9.9% decrease for breast, 7.1% for testicular, 6.3% for leukemias, and 5.7% for kidney and renal pelvis cancers.

Prostate cancer ranked first with an 8-year average of $1.81 million received per years of life lost from 100 incident cases (funding-to-lethality score, 1.81), followed by breast cancer (score, 1.80). Ovarian cancer ranked ninth in score (0.097), followed by cervix (0.087) and uterine (0.057). Breast and prostate cancers had scores nearly 32-times higher than uterine, 21-times higher than cervix, and 19-times higher than ovarian (P  .00001 for all comparisons).

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Additionally, researchers reported that the average funding-to-lethality scores for all three gynecologic cancers were significantly lower than all cancers ranked first through eighth (P  .05 for all comparisons).

“Without a correction, gynecologic cancers will continue to be underfunded and risk lagging behind other cancer sites in critical discoveries for cure and life prolongation in this important era of immunotherapy, molecular targeting, and personalized medicine,” researchers concluded.—Zachary Bessette   

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